Movie Review ~ The Host

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The Facts:

Synopsis: When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.

Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher

Director: Andrew Niccol

Rated: PG-13

Running Length: TBD

Trailer Review: Here and Here

TMMM Score: (4/10)

Review:  Let’s just face the facts –Stephenie Meyer just isn’t a very good writer.  No matter how much spit shine you put on the film adaptation of her novels you can’t escape that reality.  The four Twilight novels (and subsequent five films) were a worldwide phenomenon…but these always had a shelf life on them.  Her other literary endeavor is The Host and though it was marginally better received in the book community, it’s yet another half-baked saga concerning a love triangle and the impact that has on a continuing battle between two species.

To its credit, The Host is a bit loftier in the message it’s trying to convey but for every inch the film moves forward in making a point about a peaceful society, the sappy romance elements drag it back a few feet.  Worse, the film has to overcome more than a few silly plot devices such as a character having an ongoing internal dialogue with a secondary personality living inside her head. 

If that last statement had you going back and reading it again…maybe I should back up.  The Host is set in the not too distant future where an alien race has invaded our planet and implanted “souls” in our bodies.  These souls are alien life forms from distant planets that are here to restore peace and order to a troubled world.  Problem is, to do so they use our bodies as vessels…destroying our original personality and replacing it with one from the souls.  Though they can access our memories, mankind has become a prisoner in their own bodies. 

Some humans have developed a way to fight their host and that’s where we find Melanie Stryder (Oscar nominee Ronan) as she is implanted with a soul (that calls itself Wanderer…hey…at least it isn’t Renesmee!) that she battles with and eventually learns to coexist with as she leads her physical body to the desert where a small band of freedom fighters await her.  It also helps that her uncle (a surprisingly game Hurt), her brother (Chandler Canterbury), and her love interest (Irons, son of Jeremy) are there as well.

Pursued by a vengeful Seeker (Kruger…doing her best Charlize Theron impression) as Melanie/Wanderer joins the fight, another love interest (Abel) comes into play…creating not so much a love triangle but a rectangle of feelings.  While the film isn’t as dewy eyed or groan-inducing as the Twilight films, there are more than a few moments when your eyes will get a nice workout from rolling around in your head.

In his previous films  Gattaca, Simone, and In Time, director Niccol has created a steely sterile version of the future and those same elements are on display here.  All of the “bad guy” cars are shiny silver (even the helicopters) and everything about the enemies is in perfect alignment.  That contrasts nicely with the rough edges of the remaining un-hosted humans who look like refugees from a Mad Max movie.  Shot in some fantastic vistas in New Mexico, the film looks expensive and has some above average special effects.

It’s too bad that the script doesn’t match up to the production values.  Adapting Meyer’s novel was probably a chore and I think Niccol did his best with it…but an overabundance of cliché situations doesn’t give the film much room to breathe.  Ronan is a decent heroine, though like a groundhog her Louisiana accent only comes out to see its shadow before it retreats.  Irons and Abel are, if possible, blander love interests than the vampires and werewolves in Twilight and Kruger just doesn’t fit the ice queen persona she’s tasked to play.  Only Hurt seems to come out of this unscathed…maybe because he knows not to take everything so very seriously.

When all is said and done I’m glad that The Host was a standalone novel and not one we will see countless sequels for the next few years.  With the recent released (and much better) Beautiful Creatures totally bombing, I’ve a feeling this one will be a hard sell to audiences who are exhausted from tween romances.  For all its sleek effects and occasional on the money social observance, The Host winds up feeling lackluster and sluggish and not the satisfying movie experience that it could have been

44 comments on “Movie Review ~ The Host

  1. Sia says:

    I disagree Stephenie Meyer is a good writer and she obviously does things way better then any “good” author will ever do like it or not. I’ve seen the film and thought it was good not great but good ! I don’t agree with your review I feel it’s bias against young romance, Stephenie Meyer and you gave Jack the Giant Slayer a score of 7 ? You’ve got to be kidding me at least this film has a story.

    • Joe says:

      I’m glad you liked the movie and that’s what’s great about seeing things in a different way. Though I thought Meyer’s idea was an interesting one, it’s all but abandoned in favor of a glossy romance where everyone gets what they want in the end without much sacrifice. It’s an idealistic worldview and there’s nothing wrong with that…especially for young romance 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting — agreeing to disagree is healthy!

    • Anya says:

      She is not a good writer. Her books are full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. I liked ‘The Host’ because of its interesting story, but her writing style truly is awful.

      • bobo says:

        Anya, Its not a writer’s job to spell correctly. Sounds like she has a bad editing team. How many of her books have you read? Why do you continue to read them?

      • Anya says:

        @bobo

        I can’t reply to your post for some reason.

        Seriously, I wonder what people who defend her writing style have read in their lives. I usually read more than a hundred books per year, and believe me, her writing style is awful. Maybe I’m spoiled because I mostly read classics, but her limited vocabulary, the way she has to repeat things over and over, her sentence structure. I could go on for ages.

        As I wrote, ‘The Host’ is an interesting story. That’s why I read it. I don’t criticize her ability to think of interesting stories. She’s imaginative. I criticize her writing style.

        The spelling mistakes were just an example. Yes, her editor would be responsible for correcting spelling mistakes, but Meyer is a college graduate, she should be able to spell. It’s not too much to ask for.

        I’ve actually read all of them, I believe. My friend is a huge Twilight fan and she gave me the entire series for my birthday. I read everything I can get my hands on. I read all of them in two days. I thought they were horrible but entertaining in a way. I had a good laugh at the last one, which was by far the worst.

        My friends know how much I like to read and I received ‘The Host’ as an e-book about a year ago. I liked the story. Not the writing style. So I’m looking forward to the movie.

    • Chrissy says:

      I think you are looking at a different audience completely – The host is a tween movie and it will hit to that target perfectly. I think they will love it and for the fans of Andrew Niccol it has his stamp all over it. With a lesser director it would not have been as good. I hope she writes the other two books not so I can read them but so I can watch the films. On the other hand Jack The Giant Slayer is a good rollicking family watch with a budget three times the size of The Host and in my opinion not really comparable.

  2. Charlotte says:

    The problem is that people already have a negative attitude against Meyer, and that will ruin their perception of the whole movie. Good critics manage to stay neutral, though.

    • Joe says:

      I went into this with an open mind, I really did. Though I haven’t read this book I did make it through the Twilight saga and just don’t find Meyer’s writing to be on par with her contemporaries. Still, there’s a whole audience she speaks to and if that inspires even one person to pursue their dream I think that’s a win-win. I try to take each movie on its own merits and I found myself with problems relating to a conclusion that doesn’t feel totally justified. Can you tell me that the movie wouldn’t have been that much better while maintaining its core message by removing those final five minutes?

      • Charlotte says:

        It’s good that you had an open mind, I just didn’t get that feel by reading your review. And I agree about the ending, I feel that way about the book as well. It would have been a much better and more emotional and tragic story if they let her die. Although I’m kinda glad Meyer ended it that way because I hope for a sequel. But that and the love story can’t be the only bad thing about the movie? Even though the love story isn’t my favorite part of the story, it is very original and (for me) very well-written. Meyer might not be the best author, but she is a good one. I haven’t seen the whole movie yet, but I’ve seen most of the scenes in it. To me it looks very good. I mean, Twilight was a joke, but The Host is something completely different. The criticism of our society is something I can relate to, and the originality of the story isn’t something you see everyday. I mean, Beautiful Creatures? I have heard that story being told hundreds of times, and you think it’s better than The Host with all the talented people involved? If I’d been an American, I’d sue you for saying that.

      • Joe, you should read the Host. It’s actually a very good book. I was worried that the movie would focus too much on the romance and not enough on the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer. I haven’t seen the movie, but it appears that the romance won out. The book goes far more into the mind of Melanie and Wanderer; the fight for control between their egos that eventually evolves into a sisterly bond – a bond that compels one to make a tremendous sacrifice so that the other can live. Also, the relationships between all of the characters evolves slowly, which is difficult to capture on film. I love the Twilight books, but I do recognize their sophomoric flaws, however, the Host is completely different. It’s a book about the human condition, and brings to light the beauty and the darkness of mankind.

      • Vit says:

        “Though I haven’t read this book I did make it through the Twilight saga” Ок, that explains, why my first intention was punch you to the mouth (sorry, Joe), if I’ve read only Twilight, my opinion would be much in tune with yours.
        Anya, I usually read more than two hundred books a year, and believe me, Stef – brilliant writer even if The Host is the only thing that really counts so far (IMHO).
        Joe, anyway thanks, great job, at least I am going to the theater more aware of possible disappointments.

      • Rikki says:

        Remember, meyer was targeting a teen audience when writing twilight. The
        host was more of a adult book, and I think some people may of mijudged the
        movie to be a teens one. Joe, I reccomend reading the book as it does answer
        yous’eye-rolling moments’. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I don’t think people
        should put the movie off just because Stephane Meyer wrote it and she also made that teen vampire book.

    • Anya says:

      It’s pretty unfair to accuse him of being biased. I think he actually did a good job reviewing it. He pointed out some good things about the movie, such as the special effects, which a biased reviewer probably wouldn’t do.

      You are the one who seems biased to me. You haven’t even seen it, as far as I can tell from your reply, yet you won’t accept any criticism of it.

      I loved the book (the story, not so much the writing style) and even I thought the movie looked a bit silly from the trailer, even though I really wanted to like it. I will watch the movie anyway and I actually have high expectations for it because Ronan is in it and Niccol directed it.

    • I agree with you Charlotte. It seems that reviewers don’t want to give a good review to all things Meyer if they want to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get a fair shake.

  3. Anya says:

    I disagree with the other posters, the review seems pretty fair to me. It’s not just ranting about how awful the movie was but constructive criticism and he pointed out several good things (such as Ronan and the special effects) as well.

    I’m excited for the movie and a little sad it doesn’t seem to be that good. But I’ll still watch it. To me it looked a little silly from the trailer, so I actually believe that it has its weak points. But as I liked the story of ‘The Host’ I still hope I’ll enjoy this overall.

  4. Nosa says:

    Actually its meant to be a trilogy so that’s why Stephenie Meyer decided not to let her die. Otherwise it would have been better for a stand alone l=novel to have her die. I actually prefer she didn’t die, there are so many tragic stories where the main character sacrifices themselves and i actually liked that the humans decided to save her. It’s more realistic that humans would be selfish in not letting Wanda go and that’s the point she tries to make by suggesting that perhaps to be human is to look at things in an individualistic way as in they may not like the aliens in general but they like Wanda.

  5. Aniq says:

    This is a very good and intelligent review. I read The Host when it first came out as well as the Twilight series. I found The Host an insipid read and will not be going to the movies to watch the film. The story was not fascinating and on this I concur with Joe. Joe makes a very good point that if S Meyer were a good story-teller then the films would translate better. I watched Twilight 1, and have had no interest in watching the other films, even when offered the chance to watch them for free. As Joe points out the stories just didn’t have that much plot.

  6. Betty says:

    What kind of reviewer are you if you react on the comments? Just take the high road like a professional.

    • Joe says:

      Healthy dialogue is good, Betty! Why not show that you listen to the opinions of others if they are going to take the time to write in?

    • Erika says:

      Blow it out your ass, Betty.

      • Rikki says:

        I thought everyone could have their opinion? Yes Joe, it is healthy to show your opinions and expand on what you think by replying. Though you should not take advantage of this and turn the question around

  7. Shannomo says:

    I thought The Host was a great story, very imaginative. For me, it surpassed the Twilight Sagas, but then they were written for the younger reader. We need to read novels with the “target” audience in mind. I look forward to seeing The Host and hope they capture the inner struggle between Melanie and Wanderer.

  8. HG says:

    Is a love triangle any different from Twilight? I mean, is there any moment, when you actually don’t know how it’s gonna end?)

    • dallas mccowan says:

      You haven’t read the book

    • Rikki says:

      I would say it’s more of a love square. The romance was just a side-long topic of the main genre of the story. The story didn’t need a movie to explain it more. When I read the book I was bewildered by it. It was deep and gos further out from star trek. It had explanations for everything discussed. At the end It actually made me wish I was Melanie/wanderer. Everyone has their own opinions about books, but this one touch me deep down I say well done S Meyer!

  9. Devamma says:

    I have to agree with Joe’s review. I saw the film twice now [I felt that I had high expectations the first time and wanted to look at the film in a more unbiased way]. Straight up, the film was loads better than any of the Twilight films. I think Saoirse and the cast did as good of a job as they could have done, and I know Andrew Niccol had constraints on being able to adapt the material [because Stephenie Meyer had final say in most of the major changes]. He would not have been able to cut out the ‘cringe-inducing’ scenes as you say, although I really really wish he could have. I really thought this could have been one of the cases where the film would be better than the book, only because the book honestly did have a fantastically unique premise.

    And I am a fan of the book btw, but I feel like Stephenie’s writing, while not BAD per say, is just too focused on romantic subplots to really explore other issues she puts forth. I thought the Host was much better in that regard than the Twilight series, but the cheese was still there in abundance.

    Anyways, the second time was also not good. I would give this film a 6/10, but that’s being generous. I really wanted to like this one, I just couldn’t bring myself to forgive the flaws. Bad pacing, cheesy dialogue (can’t be helped I guess), the internal dialogue comes off terrible in the first few scenes [although you come to get used to it towards the end], and the worst is Stephenie Meyer’s inability to kill off anybody or anything or have anything end in less than sunshine and rainbows. Like, she managed to find a way for everyone to live happily ever after in a POST ALIEN INVASION film where humans are almost EXTINCT. I feel like the biggest problem with her stories, and you can’t fault Niccol or anybody else for this, is that she simply can’t bear for anything bad to happen to her characters.

    Anyways, I guess this has been a criticism of the book more than the movie, but I guess the movie was as good as could be under the circumstances. I really thought Niccol would have been allowed more creative freedom thanks to his past endeavors, but I guess not.

    • dallas mccowan says:

      I guess you didn’t read her book, “the short life of Bree Tanner”

    • I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there are plenty of deaths in the book. I like that she kept the main characters alive. I have no interest in seeing characters who I’ve grown to love die. It may be cheesy, but I’ll choose the happy ending any day.

  10. J says:

    Firstly could I just say that not all twilight fans are teens secondly if the books were so bad how come they have sold so many there will always be people who like some things and those who don’t and those who are jelious of people when they make something of their lives but twilight saga got many people reading some who haven’t read for years and most twi fans have read the host before it was even announced as a film and have been looking forward to it ever since no matter what people say and one good thing that seems to happen with Stephanie’s books is they stay true to the book no matter how hard

  11. Tyty says:

    I’m a fan and I love it but I went to see this with my sister which happened to be a non stephenie Meyer fan at th end of the movie she looked at me and told me that the host movie was way better than the twilight saga so

  12. tyrone says:

    I’ve just now stumbled onto your review, which I can’t really argue with as I haven’t yet seen the movie. However, the tone of your review left me wondering because it was so negative.
    That is, until I noticed one poster state that you gave 7/10 to Jack The Giant Slayer!
    The Host’s intriguing and interesting storyline dealing with alien/human conflict and the dual characters’ quandary and struggle with each other to control the host body could hardly be more distinct from a simplistic child’s story that is basically just $100,000,000+ of CGI effects.

    • Joe says:

      I try to take each film on its own merits and review it based on what I got out if it at the time. I’ve absolutely looked back and longed to adjust higher rated movies down a few notches but alas, that’s for another column!

      Thanks for reading!

  13. dallas mccowan says:

    She is doing pretty good for being an amateur writer. .. she just decided to write a book one day because of a dream she had and Look what she ended up with accomplishing…a saga of books and a novel. .. both of witch became box offiice hits… not every author could say that<3you can't judge the movies with the books. .. even the all the movies had different directors. .. the books were way better than the movies. .I was so disapointed in the way the movies were edited. .. they all left out so many important story plots, facts, and scenes from the book…I know they had to keep the movies in a certain time frame but that it's why the movies sucked

  14. C says:

    I agree the movie was not really worth seeing. I saw the MN advance screening at the MOA. While I enjoyed all of Stephenie Meyer’s books, I do not consider her writing that fabulous. They are certainly not the same caliber as other best selling authors. The movie adaptations have been plain awful. The Host is no exception. While I agree some of the actors have decent or even good performances, some were horrible and the screenwriting needed work as well. The movie failed to flow and never really drew me into the story.

    I disagree about Diane Kruger though. I felt she was the only actor that drew an emotional reaction from me. She became the seeker and lived and breathed the role. She was the only major actor/role that was believable. Ronan did show great promise however.

  15. Britt says:

    “I’m glad that The Host was a standalone novel and not one we will see countless sequels for the next few years.” — I guess you haven’t seen the interview with Stephenie Meyer (sp?)… While the sequels haven’t been finished or published, she is already writing them. Whether the studio behind THE HOST asked her to do it for future revenue or she’s just smart enough to know that if she writes it (and soon), she’s got the opportunity to make a few more bucks before her target audience moves on to something else, who knows. Probably both.

    • Her follow-up novel is titled “The Soul” but she’s been too busy producing movies to finish it. As a Meyer fan, I am not pleased with having to wait so long for new books.

  16. Todd says:

    You talk about it being young love but in the book Melanie Stryder is in her young twenties and Jared is in his early thirties, so how does this contemplate as young love? You need to get your facts straight before you write a review and I don’t know how any can be this interested in what you have to say about the movie considering you gave Jack the Giant slayer a 7/10 we need to find more honest people to review our movies instead of objectively biased haters.

    • Joe says:

      Did you see the movie? Stryder and Jared are not the ages they are in the book. Very early twenties is my estimation and yah, that’s young-ish love.
      I went into this with an open mind and it wasn’t the movie for me. As for Jack, I’ve said it in comments before but I have to judge a movie based on my initial reaction which was positive. Is it a 7? Probably not and I would rank it lower if it didn’t mean going back and rewriting history.

    • HG says:

      Why Jack is an example of reviewer’s irrelevance?)) It’s not a movie of the same genre and a totally different story.

  17. […] … ‘The Host’ is a bit loftier (than ‘Twilight’) in the message it’s trying to convey but for every inch the film moves forward in making a point about a peaceful society, the sappy romance elements drag it back a few feet.  Worse, the film has to overcome more than a few silly plot devices such as a character having an ongoing internal dialogue with a secondary personality living inside her head. — Joe, The MN Movie Man […]

  18. Thanks for your review, Joe. I enjoyed reading it. The film’s a melange of The Fugitive and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but, primarily, it’s about the romantic conflict experienced by female teen’s whose hormones are raging.

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